After winning a title, the wrestling team has a go-to celebration: they eat cake.
However, instead of sharing cake as a team like they did after winning the Big Ten tournament in the beginning of March, the wrestlers and coaches shared a giant celebratory cake at an open celebration with the public Monday in the Nittany Lion Club at Beaver Stadium.
The team gathered with fans and supporters to celebrate its second consecutive national championship, surrounded by food, refreshments and the large cake that covered an entire table.
The team and coaches got up in front of the applauding crowd, and they reflected on what the journey over the course of the season meant to them.
“I remember being at this thing last year and saying we’re going to be sitting here with two rings,” senior Frank Molinaro said. “It’s just been a glorious run and it’s hard to sit back and enjoy what we did and understand what we did. But we really did something special.”
Molinaro was one of three Penn State wrestlers to win an individual national championship this season, and he became the fifth four-time All American in Penn State wrestling history after finishing his senior campaign 33-0.
Acting Athletic Director David Joyner opened the speeches by talking about how proud the university is of all its teams and athletes, and the wrestlers are a great example of the excellence the Penn State Athletics strives to achieve.
“We are very proud of this great wrestling program and this great wrestling team and our coaches and our student-athletes,” Joyner said. “And I want to thank them first and foremost for the efforts that they put forward last year with such a great accomplishment and they’re all to be congratulated.”
Talking about the hard work the team put in throughout the course of the season, coach Cael Sanderson said support from everyone around the team makes the success worth celebrating.
“It’s just a tremendous team,” Sanderson said. “And the fans, the supporters, the alumni, you’re the ones that really make everything possible. You are Penn State and we have the honor and privilege of representing you.”
Since taking over as head coach three years ago, Sanderson has quickly helped deliver two national and Big Ten titles to Penn State, and appears to be in position to continue that success.
Looking at the potential the team has in its young wrestlers, Cameron Wade said the team’s success should continue to grow.
“Penn State wrestling will be great for years to come,” the senior said. “We have great coaching, great kids on the team, I’m sure we’re going to keep getting great recruits. We have the best fans in the country and the best academic support staff.”
Wade and Molinaro are the only two seniors graduating from the team’s starting lineup, and they both said the rest of the returning wrestlers will be ready to continue the success.
Molinaro said building a dynasty goes far beyond the efforts of the ten wrestlers who take the mat for the team.
“It’s [the fans], the kids on the team, the kids the coaches recruit, it’s the families,” Molinaro said. “It’s everyone that makes something like that possible.”